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Teen Who Murdered Out of Jealousy Killed in Exercise Yard of Northern California Prison

By Jo Ellen Nott

Nineteen-year-old Michael Hastey, sentenced in June 2021 to life with possibility of parole for murdering a romantic rival two years before in Trinity County, was killed by two other prisoners at the High Desert State Prison (HDSP) in Northern California on February 18, 2022.

Guards at the 2,292-bed state prison in Susanville reported seeing prisoners Christopher Dolan, 30, and Michael Ellison, 39, attack Hastey with homemade weapons in the exercise yard. The guards were able to break up the attack with chemical agents and batons, but Hastey died an hour later in the prison’s medical facility. His death is now being investigated as a homicide.

Prison officials did not disclose what motivated the attack. According to the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), the Lassen County Sheriff’s Office and HDSP Investigative Services Unit are investigating the incident. The state Office of the Inspector General has been notified as well.

Before fatally stabbing 28-year-old Nathan Purdue in 2019 in a fit of jealous rage, Hastey, who was then 16, learned that his 17-year-old-girlfriend had been kissed by Purdue after the trio was out together for the day. By that time Hastey had spent time in juvenile hall for drug and drinking offenses, battery and stealing. He was also involved in a carjacking incident in 2017. A probation officer described Hastey as “extremely smart” and said that he had been preparing to attend Shasta College before he was tried as an adult for the murder of Purdue. Mental health professionals had advised the probation officer that “something is not right with his processing dealing with anger.”

Dolan, one of the accused killers, is serving a six-year sentence for assault and resisting an officer in Ventura County. Ellison, the other man accused, is serving a life sentence like Hastey was. He has been imprisoned since 2004 for the fatal beating of a homeless man in Riverside the year before, and he has received additional time for making deadly weapons, as well as assaulting a guard fellow and prisoners, including the killing of a fellow prisoner at Salinas Valley State Prison. 

Sources: CDCR, Los Angeles Times, Mercury News

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